Henley’s Got Talent Showcases Young Local Stars

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Henley’s young performers put on a dazzling show at the Kenton Theatre for this weekend’s ‘Henley’s Got Talent’. On Saturday 3 February, children aged 5 to 18 wowed their audience with their various skills, from singing to dance to acrobatics. The talent show, organised by Mayor Kellie Hinton, was a spectacular display of talent in aid of the Mayor’s charities – Badgemore, Sacred Heart, Trinity and Valley Road primary schools.

The brilliant 20 acts were split into two groups for judging: Years 1 to 5, and Years 6 and up. In true talent show fashion, the budding entertainers were critiqued by an expert judging panel – Jo Southwell of Aston Productions, Stand Up Comedian Maddi Sharkey, and ‘Bye Bye Baby’ Musical Director Marc Ryzer. The fierce competition called for some tough decisions, with Maddi Sharkey declaring, “There’s so much potential in all the acts, and we hope to see them back next year.”

Though there were runners up and applause aplenty for all the young entrants, each category could only have one winner. Sibling duo Felix and Didi, from Sacred Heart, stole the Junior prize (Years 1-5) for their rendition of The Kinks’ ‘Waterloo Sunset’ and Seven Nation Army. With Felix, 10, on vocals and guitar, and Didi, 8, on the drums, the pair performed with confidence far beyond their age. They rehearsed every day for two weeks before the show, which was Didi’s first public performance. Matt Richardson, the children’s father, revealed, “Didi was so nervous that at Friday’s rehearsal she said she couldn’t do it. We spoke to her that evening but on Saturday we weren’t sure if she would go ahead until just before the performance. I’m so proud of her for doing it.” Felix excitedly exclaimed afterwards that he felt “good, excellent, and super proud.”

Also showcasing talent far beyond their years were the winners of the Years 6-13 category: Lucy, 13, and Angel, 14, from Gillotts School sang ‘Stay’ by Rihanna. The song was dedicated to Lucy’s mum, who was unable to attend the show but, as Mayor Kellie Hinton said, “would be so proud.” Afterwards, Lucy expressed her surprise, stating “I never thought this would happen!” The fantastic winning acts will be appearing again at the May Fayre on 7 May, at the 2018 Living Advent Calendar, and at other events throughout the year. They were also presented with a selection of books from Primary Times for their efforts.

Audience members were given a chance to win, too, with a raffle. This featured a number of exciting prizes donated by local businesses, including Primary Times, Hotel du Vin, Temptations, Sanbei Phone Shop, The Regal Cinema, Phyllis Court Club, Reading Hydroponics, The Catherine Wheel, Tesco, Henley Youth Festival, Elements Hairdressers and more. Raffle ticket sales alone raised over £200 for the local primary schools. Councillor Kellie Hinton expressed her gratitude to the many people who made the event happen, including Hugh Legh (who provided lighting and some of the sound tech for free); Councillors Lorraine Hillier, Jane Smewing and David Eggleton; Tom, Paula and the The Kenton Theatre team; Becky Walker, who volunteered on the day, and Leena Wisely, who helped to organise the event. Kellie said, “I was really pleased to be able to showcase young local talent and I think we have solid foundations to keep this as an annual event. I am so proud of our young people in this town and the way they supported this event to raise money and awareness for our local primary schools and the struggles they face with all of the cuts to their budgets.”